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16 Ways We Put Marion on the Map in 2016 - City of Marion, Iowa -

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Published by City of Marion, 2017-02-01 12:46:21

City of Marion Annual Report

16 Ways We Put Marion on the Map in 2016 - City of Marion, Iowa -

Keywords: Marion,Iowa,community,growth,development,infrastructure


16 Ways City of Marion Annual Report
We Put
Marion on
the Map
in 2016

Dear Friends,
It gives me great pleasure to share with you the 2016 Annual Report
for the City of Marion. Our city has experienced important progress
over the past year and this report captures just some of the ways in
which we – as civil servants, businesses and citizens – are working
together to put Marion on the map.
As we implement long-range plans for improving infrastructure
and accommodating Marion’s fast-growing population, we’re also
seeing unprecedented con dence in our city and tremendous interest
by developers, with a number of truly transformative projects in
the works.
e goal of our city council, professional sta and economic develop-
ment partners is to create opportunities here for an unequaled quality
of life. We sincerely believe in Marion’s potential to be the best place
in Iowa to raise a family and grow a business; a place where we reach
higher and achieve more – in business and in life.
ank you for taking the time to read this Annual Report. I hope
you’ll agree that we have much to celebrate and a bright future ahead.
Let’s continue reaching higher, together.

Nicolas AbouAssaly


Marion is an innovative community with unequaled
opportunity and vibrant neighborhoods, supported

by world-class citizens, business, and industry.
Here we reach higher and achieve more.

Brand Promise:

Marion is the best place in Iowa to raise a family and
grow a business. What sets us apart? In Marion, we
reach higher and achieve more. In business and in life.


1 Charting 2 Planned
our Growth Development

Marion recently worked with the U.S. Marion continues to experience both residential and commercial
Census Bureau to conduct a special growth. As the community grows north, the City has taken steps
census in high growth areas. Marion’s to ensure that property is reserved for future o ce/commercial
latest population gure is 38,023. e development.
City is projected to collect an additional
$2.6 million in revenues, speci cally Marion’s investment in public infrastructure has resulted in
linked to the population increase of numerous o ce/commercial redevelopment projects along the
2,860 through the 2016 Special Cen- Central Corridor. Dunkin’ Donuts, Marion Dairy Queen and
sus. Marion’s new certi ed population Lebeda Mattress Factory are among the private new construc-
count will bene t the community over tion projects along 7th Avenue. Goodwill recently relocated and
the next four years through two rev- Hills Bank opened a new branch east of 31st Street a er extensive
enue streams: road use tax and local renovations to existing structures. Lincolnview Square is another
option sales tax (LOST) funding. example of a mixed-use development that has modernized and
given new life to an under-utilized space.

ese projects are exceeding development requirements and
creating an attractive and active corridor. In addition to providing
employment opportunities, they increase the tax base for both
the City and School Districts, who otherwise rely heavily on
residential development.

28th>>>> Marion recently landed on NerdWallet’s list of best small

cities in the U.S. for families. NerdWallet analyzed 245 cities in the U.S.

with populations between 25,000 and 100,000. Income and affordability,

prosperity and growth, and family-friendliness were taken into account.

>>>> placed7th in Iowa in

a study by SmartAsset, which
ranked the healthiest housing
markets in the U.S. The study
measured cities by the average
number of years’ residents spend
in homes, home values, ease of
sale, and the costs associated
with ownership.


Central Corridor Project Goes Round

Marion’s Central Corridor is one of the most prominent and identi able areas within the community.
Properties once reserved for warehouses and industrial uses are now better positioned for a mix of
commercial and residential development.

Two major phases of the project were completed in 2016 with the roundabouts at each end of
the corridor opening late in the year. e roundabouts are part of a long term tra c management
plan for Marion’s core, and will eventually balance tra c between 6th and 7th Avenues
and create a more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere in Uptown Marion.

4 Tower Terrace Road

Regional collaboration keeps the Tower Terrace Road
project moving ahead. Tower Terrace Road will provide
another major east-west arterial route across the northern
portion of the Cedar Rapids metro area, connecting Interstate
380 to Highway 13. e project runs through portions of
Hiawatha, Cedar Rapids, Robins, Linn County and Marion.

ese juridictions have pledged $1 million to help fund the
proposed interchange o Interstate 380 and anticipate regional
transportation dollars being added to bring the total local
commitment to as much as $5 million. It is expected that
the remaining cost of the $22 million interchange would
be covered by Iowa Department of Transportation funds.

Marion has continued to make steady progress on segments
of the roadway through public/private partnerships. Most
recently, the stretch from 10th Street to the future location
of Winslow Road was constructed.


6 Four New Senior
Housing Projects
5 Making Marion the Best in the Works
Place to Grow a Business
Developers have identi ed a number of
e City of Marion is fortunate to collaborate with three sites in and around Marion that meet the
economic development partners focused on making Marion criteria for senior housing – from skilled
the best place in Iowa to raise a family and grow a business. nursing to low income senior apartments.
Studies show that in many cases, devel-
e Marion Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) opers focus on thriving suburban commu-
exists to create an exceptional business environment for compa- nities because established working couples
nies to compete and thrive. Since 2015, MEDCO has supported want to have their parents close by, where
industrial and commercial real estate investments in the com- they can receive the level of care they need
munity valued at $39.4 million while retaining and creating and still be active within their families.
241 jobs. Additional investment supported by MEDCO includes Marion’s proximity to public transporta-
$39.5 million in projects currently underway or planned in the tion, medical services, employment oppor-
community. MEDCO also supports a variety of workforce tunities and basic shopping needs helps
development and employer advocacy initiatives. solidify the investment decision.
Four new senior housing projects are in
e Marion Chamber of Commerce supports small business varying stages of development in Marion.
and focuses its programming on commerce, community and cul- Blairs Ferry Senior (pictured below) and
ture. Did you know that roughly 68 percent of revenue from local the Arbor at Lindale Trail are located
businesses (compared to 33 percent from national chains and along Blairs Ferry Road and close to
online megastores) is reinvested in the community? e Chamber completion. ese facilities will provide
has made a concerted e ort to remind residents and visitors to 127 income-restricted housing units for
shop local and continues to work with current and prospective residents ages 55 and over. e two addi-
business owners. In the past year, 26 businesses have opened or tional projects are expected to o er inde-
expanded in Marion – further enhancing the unique mix of retail, pendent, assisted and skilled care services.
dining and service options. e Chamber supported $23 million Terrace Glen is being constructed along
in commercial and industrial development projects in FY2016. Alburnett Road
and e Views
Uptown Marion, a Main Street Iowa District, drives economic Senior Living is
development through historic preservation. Highlights from proposed near
FY2016 include: $1.2 million in private investments into the the Highway 100/
central business district, recipient of a $55,000 Main Street Iowa East Post Road >>>>
Challenge grant, 13 new businesses joining the district and four intersection.
business expansions, and three new retail events – supported In late 2015, Marion
by 1,219 hours of volunteer time.
landed on the list

of Top 10 Most
Livable Cities
for Adults 50+

according to AARP’s

Livability Index.

Improving Access
to Library Services

e Marion Public Library is a hub of activity any day of
the week. is year, library sta have worked to improve
access to library services for underserved segments of
the population. A new partnership with HACAP result-
ed in over 3,000 pounds of nonperishable food items
being donated to the food pantry by library patrons in
November to reduce overdue material nes. In addition,
the library has become a mobile food pantry stop for
HACAP; once a month, they bring a truck with food
items for qualifying recipients to pick up. During the
summer, the library partnered with USDA and Horizons
Family Services to provide an average of 25 free lunches
each weekday to children up to age 17.
7 A Little Free Library was installed at Azure Apartments

in Marion in the spring of 2016. is housing commu-
nity includes many children and teens, and library sta
Uptown Marion saw the location as a prime way to reach enthusiastic
readers who may not have easy access to the library.
Comes to Life e Friends of the Marion Public Library Home
Books Program was created this year as a way to get
Marion was the rst community in Iowa to books and other library materials into the hands of
receive support from ArtPlace America for a community members with barriers to visiting the library.
placemaking project. ArtPlace, a consortium of Friends volunteers and library sta work together to
national foundations and nancial institutions, select, package, and mail materials to participants’ homes.
has provided Marion with $350,000 to help bring Materials are sent back to the library when patrons are
vitality to under-utilized spaces in the heart of nished with them. ere is no charge for this service.
the historic Uptown Marion Main Street District. e library also began delivering library materials to
When 7th Avenue is undergoing streetscape im- three assisted living facilities in Marion this year.
provements as part of the City’s Central Corridor
redevelopment plan, the alleyways will become an
important thoroughfare for customers. Public art
and cultural programming will serve as a catalyst E-books were 20O,v5er00
for economic development while nurturing
healthy social bonds throughout the community. d2ow3n,l8oa1d7ed attended library
times programs

With the completion of infrastructure 19W6e,h9a1d 0 MARION i1nc1lu,d9ing0t8he
improvements and alley construction, nine local PUBLIC
and national artists have begun the process of physical items people who
art installation. e grand opening of the alley at the end of attended our
is planned to coincide with the Marion Arts
the year

Festival in May 2017. Physical LIBRARY 317
In addition, six Uptown Marion building materials
façades were given a faceli in the last year. anks 6c7ir3cu,l0ate1d4 for children

to a $500,000 Community Development Block times last year

Grant from the Iowa Economic Development
Authority and local building owner support, the
building exteriors were repaired and restored.



Putting Safety First

Marion is committed to being the safest
city in the Corridor. While it is natural to
think about the crime rate, the safety of a
community encompasses building code
enforcement, re code enforcement, street
design, park development and more.

During 2016 the Marion Police Depart-
ment bid farewell to longtime chief Harry
Daugherty. In December, Joseph McHale
was hired to lead the Marion Police
Department. McHale comes to Marion
with a distinguished career of over
25 years from the Kansas City,

>>>>Missouri Police Department.


11,608 Level 3 ISO 16th

inspections completed public protection rating consecutive year Marion was
in FY 2016 recognized as one of the safest
3,304 cities in Iowa for communities
3,628 with over 20,000 in population
calls for service –
permits issued in FY 2016 81% were medical calls 29,388

432 Less than 4% calls for service –
35% were 911 emergencies
new homes or housing units – Fire loss was less than 4%
created from 215 permits issued of the city’s total valuation


10 Marion Honored with
Healthy Hometown Award

11 Where you Live Marion was presented a Healthy HometownSM powered by Wellmark
can Make for award at the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative Bringing it Home confer-
Better Living ence in November. e award recognizes Marion for its dedication and
accomplishments toward meaningful health improvement initiatives.

“Marion has been a model for other Iowa communities and is an
encouraging example of what can be done when the citizens of a com-
munity join together to truly transform their environment,” said Jami
Haberl, Iowa Healthiest State Initiative executive director.

Some noteworthy achievements in Marion include: the passing of a
nicotine-free parks ordinance, the addition of nine community gardens
at local schools with students involved in tending to and harvesting the
produce, new bicycle racks installed at seven local parks to encourage
physical activity, and nearly 600 people participating in sunrise yoga
at Lowe Park over the course of one year.

A er working for just 18-months to develop and implement a blueprint
for making permanent environmental, social and policy changes that trans-
ition people to healthier behaviors, Marion became a Blue Zones Certi ed
Community in Sept. 2015.
Recent Gallup Healthways Well-being Index surveying in Marion
revealed positive changes for Marion as a result of its Blue Zones® participa-
tion. Overall well-being in Marion is up for the second year in a row since
2014 and is strong and well ahead of national and state levels. Four of every 12
ve residents surveyed felt the city or area is a perfect place for him or her.
In addition, a number of factors improved over Marion’s baseline data.
Residents feel active and productive daily, exercise 30+ minutes more than
3 days per week, receive positive energy every day from family/friends and feel
they use their strengths daily. Both smoking and obesity rates have decreased. Charting the
While these results are impressive, Marion’s journey to well-being
continues. rough Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding Course for Parks
administered through the American Planning Association, Marion developed & Recreation
a policy document that supports an active lifestyle immersed in nature. e
Step Into Nature plan was adopted by Marion City Council in the fall of 2016 In 2016, the Marion City Council
and will be used to transform the built environment. It outlines a four-pronged and Marion Park Board adopted a
approach to active living, active transportation, biophilic design and Marion Parks and Recreation Master
community interaction. Plan to guide the next 10 years for
parks, recreation and aquatic devel-
All Trails Lead to Marion opment. A number of infrastructure
improvements to the park system
In the last 4 years Marion has been awarded were instituted in 2016 with the rst
nearly $10 million in federal grants through phase of Waldo’s Rock Park Devel-
the Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organi- opment completed, parking lots and
zation for trails within Marion. e City will trails added to Lowe Park, and a new
provide a local $2.5 million match. Over the bridge installed at Donnelly Park.
next 5 years, three major trail connections are Expanded programming o erings
expected between the City of Cedar Rapids were highly successful at Lowe Park
13 and Marion; the CeMar Trail, Lindale Trail with the addition of several concerts
extension, and Tower Terrace Road Trail. and outdoor movie nights.


14 Strong Bond Rating – Aa1 General Fund FY 2016
e City continues to maintain its Aa1 bond 2% Property Taxes $12,167,431
rating – a very strong rating for cities our size. 2% 1%
5% 3%
is allows the City to borrow at lower rates, 3%
and stretches taxpayer dollars further. Our
independent audit by Hogan-Hansen indicates Other Financing Sources $1,483,447
that Marion’s nancial statements are presented #1 Charges for Services $533,152
fairly and accurately in accordance with Revenue Licenses & Permits $754,161
accounting principles accepted nationwide. Other City Taxes $492,344
75%source Intergovernmental $328,668
Staff/Council Accessibility Misc Revenues $261,461
Property Use of Money & Property $186,908
Sta and council members strive to be accessible Tax
Total Revenues $16,207,573
9% 75%

and want to gather feedback and ideas from resi- 5% 5% Public Safety $8,686,849
dents. In 2016, the mayor and city council mem- 6% Culture and Recreation $3,358,154
bers instituted weekly o ce hours in the lobby of General Government $1,974,510
the Marion Public Library. A group of local senior #1 Community &
citizens has also been meeting regularly with the Expenditure $1,117,875
mayor and sta to identify resources and bring to Economic Development
light the needs of this segment of the population. 52%source
Both e orts have been well-received and will con- Public Public Works $814,146
tinue in the coming year. Safety Other Financing Uses $856,180

In addition, we launched a series of Wednesday 12% Total Expenditures $16,807,714

in the Ward meetings. is took sta and council 20% 52%
members into each of Marion’s four wards to
discuss current projects and those anticipated in
that part of the city. One meeting per quarter is 16
planned for 2017.

Engaging with members of the community con-
tinues to be a strong focus, with emphasis placed
on meeting people in places where they are already Fiscal Responsibility
gathering. e City hosted its second City Show-
case in April and hosted an informational booth at e City Manager’s O ce and Finance/City Clerk’s
each Uptown Marion Market through the summer. Department are responsible for preparing the annual
operating budget. ese o ces work with all depart-
e City’s mobile app, responsive website and ments to prepare and maintain the budget that is
social media sites provide access to city consistent with the objectives of the City Council
information at your ngertips. and the City of Marion’s Strategic Plan.

e charts above depict the General Fund budget
from FY 2016. e General Fund is one of several
funds in the City’s annual operating budget. While it
appears expenditures were higher than revenues, the
City has a longstanding policy to maintain a mini-
mum General Fund cash balance in reserves equal to
35 percent of expenditures and transfers. In FY 2016,
the City opted to utilize some of the unspent reserve
balance and minimize the property tax levy.
General Fund expenditures for each department
include both personnel expenses (salaries, wages and
bene ts) and operating expenses. Additional budget
information is available at
departments/ nance.


CITY PROJECTS country ski trails are planned for the trails at Lowe and
Legion parks. In addition, look for two sizeable sculptures
Deciding What’s Next for Marion Public Library to be added to the Lowe Park Sculpture Trail and a skate
park to be developed at a new park located at 29th Avenue
e Marion Public Library Board of Trustees and and 50th Street. e department also has 23 new recreation
library leadership continue to work with our development programs in the works and intends to plant 300 trees.
partner Ryan Companies to design a new library as part
of a larger mixed-use development. While the shape of Plans for Fire Station No. 3
the library building project has changed a few times over
the past several years, we remain committed to the goals Marion is one of the fastest growing cities in the state. As
of preserving and increasing the community’s access to Marion continues to grow, so does the need for properly
library and information services and to being the library the sta ed and distributed re and emergency response forces.
Marion community deserves. e current design—cra ed
to re ect the community’s opinions and ideas from earlier e growth north coupled with increased call volume
dra s, and to incorporate spaces and tools for new services makes this a necessity in the coming years. Land acquisi-
—will produce a well-equipped, exible, and dynamic tion, plan development and construction are expected in
library positioned to serve our growing community. 2017, with the building being placed in service in 2018.
Approximately $3.5 million in local option sales tax
e overall project goals are to: has been set aside for this purpose.
• Design a new kind of exible library space to meet 21st
Eco Industrial Park
century library needs, capable of integrating technology
and traditional services, and quickly adapting to change; With a goal of becoming a Zero Waste community, the Public
• Make the library the centerpiece of Uptown Marion’s Services Department is looking to the future and nding
identity and future; to take advantage of the tra c the ways to make Marion a leader in sustainability. e depart-
library draws, turn it into activity and commerce, and ment is developing plans for an Eco Industrial Park with new
drive economic development; Public Services facilities that will incorporate renewable
• Add taxable value to the community in order to con- energy and alternative fuel systems. e park is expected
tribute to the funding of expanding library services. to be located near 3rd Avenue and 44th Street in Marion.

Future Park Development Planned Infrastructure Improvements

e Marion Parks and Recreation Department has outlined Citizen survey results have consistently shown that invest-
a number of enhancements to community recreation o er- ing in streets should be the City’s top priority. erefore,
ings in 2017. Look for the completion of Waldo’s Rock Park 70 percent of our annual local option sales tax collections
which will feature a stocked shing pond and connection to go to improve major roads, neighborhood streets, and the
Grant Wood Trail, and further development of Lowe Park sanitary and storm sewer system. Using LOST funds enables
with the addition of a playground, restrooms, pavilion and the City to complete these projects using cash, therefore
20-acres of prairie grasses. Fitness trail enhancements and eliminating the interest expense.
new trail lighting are expected at Hanna Park, and cross
Signi cant infrastructure projects include continued
>> progress along the Central Corridor, completion of the
Winslow Road project and beginning Lucore Road recon-
struction. Road construction is also expected at Armar
Drive, Alburnett Road and Tower Terrace Road. Asphalt
overlay of several neighborhood streets is also anticipated
during the summer, with speci c locations identi ed in the
spring. In addition, a new municipal drinking water well
will be drilled into the Silurian Aquifer along Echo Hill Road.


Prospect Meadows

e Enhance Iowa Board has awarded a $1 million
Community Attraction and Tourism grant to the Prospect
Meadows ball complex to be constructed north of Marion.

e facility will be located south of County Home Road and
east of Highway 13 near Marion. e proposed $13 million
project includes a multi- eld ball complex, including a

Miracle Field for those with disabilities, walking
trail, supervised play area, recreation lake, a
2-acre ower garden, concession stands,
restrooms and a storm shelter.

e project has received a combined $4 million in
support from Linn County and the cities of Cedar
Rapids and Marion in anticipation of the projected
economic bene ts to the region. An important
component of the project’s success is Perfect
Game USA’s 15-year memorandum of under-
standing to bring 1,000 teams to the facility
every year — which will equate to an estimated
60,000 out-of-the-area visitors annually.

New Marion YMCA/Community Fitness Center >>>>PRIVATE
e new Marion YMCA/Community Recreation Center
project is the largest project to come out of the Imagine8 Hotel Development Proposed
community visioning process. e much-anticipated project for Former PrinceAgri Site
will be built as a partnership between the City and YMCA
as a full-service recreation center. Located on over 10-acres A $20 million project (concept shown above) has
to support indoor and outdoor recreation needs, this multi- been proposed by GLD Properties for the abandoned
generational facility will be designed as a hub to meet the PrinceAgri industrial site south of 7th Avenue and west of
recreation, wellness, education and social needs of families 31st Street. e anchor project is an 82-room, 50,000 square
and employers in the region. e All Together. Better. foot extended stay hotel known as TownePlace by Marriott.
campaign to raise the needed funds will begin in 2017
with the site accessible to the community as Tower e development is also expected to include three additional
Terrace Road is open. buildings to contain restaurants and retail services to
support the hotel and the Marion community.
Investments in Education
Highway 13/Business 151 Development
Marion is known for providing brilliant beginnings at
some of the state’s best schools. Both school districts have Garling Construction is proposing a 20-acre development
made signi cant investments in educational facilities in at the intersection of Highways 13 and 151, where Squaw
the past year. Creek Driving Range was once located. Various uses are
proposed including convenience, banking, general retail/
Construction is currently underway at the new o ce and restaurants. Plans also include a hotel/event center
Longfellow Elementary School at 2900 8th Avenue. and the option for multi-family housing in the northeast
It will serve pre-kindergarten through second graders of corner of the site.
the Marion Independent School District beginning with
the 2017-2018 school year. With the move to Longfellow, STRATEGIC FOCUS
the district will vacate Emerson Elementary. e City and
School District are partnering to facilitate the redevelopment City Council members, administrators and department
of the Emerson Elementary property located at 1400 10th heads work collaboratively to chart the course for Marion’s
Avenue in Marion. growth. A two-day strategic planning session was held in
November 2016 to dra the City of Marion’s strategic plan
Linn-Mar Community School District recently completed which will guide the business decisions for the organization
its $26 million renovation and addition to Linn-Mar High in FY 2018 and FY 2019. e priorities identi ed include:
School. e redesigned space includes enhancements to • Become Zero Waste and Energy Independent
many instructional areas within the school, including • Lead Planned Growth
industrial technology, family consumer science, orchestra • Redevelop the Central Corridor into a Vibrant City
and tness. e project also includes a remodeled state-of-
the-art kitchen and cafeteria, as well as a brick and mortar Center
location for the student store. Various technology and • Implement Higher Design Standards
security upgrades were also part of the project scope. • Improve the Transportation System, including
New additions to the north and south ends of the building
provide learning and social collaboration areas for students, Comprehensive Trail System
sta and community patrons.

1225 6th Avenue
Marion, IA 52302


Emergency – 911

Nicolas AbouAssaly – Mayor 1225 6th Avenue Non-Emergency – 319-377-1511
marionmayor(at) Marion, IA 52302 Records – 319-200-7714
Mary Lou Pazour – At Large Administration – 319-200-7727
marionatlarge1(at) administration(at)
Administrative Offices
Kim Etzel – Ward One 319-743-6301 FIRE DEPARTMENT
ward1(at) tracim(at)
3933 Katz Drive
Joe Spinks – Ward Two Building Department Emergency – 911
ward2(at) 319-743-6330 Non-Emergency – 319-377-8237
rhoover(at) dkrebill(at)

Will Brandt – Ward Three City Clerk/Finance PARKS & RECREATION DEPARTMENT
David Nicholson – Ward Four 319-743-6350 Administrative & Operations Offices
ward4(at) wnelson(at) Thomas Park – 343 Marion Boulevard
Paul Draper – At Large
marionatlarge2(at) City Manager 319-447-3580
319-743-6301 mcarolan(at)

citymanager(at) Recreation Office

>>>> Engineering Department Lowe Park – 4500 N 10th Street
319-743-6340 319-447-3590
In October, Wallethub published dwhitlow(at) khummel(at)
its list of Best Small Cities in
America and Marion landed in Planning & Development PUBLIC SERVICES DEPARTMENT
(solid waste, sewer, streets)
the top 7 percent. WalletHub’s 319-743-6320
ttreharne(at) 195 35th Street • 319-377-6367
analysts compared 1,268 U.S. public-services(at)
cities with populations between Water Department
25,000 and 100,000 and ranked MARION PUBLIC LIBRARY
them based on affordability, 319-743-6310
economic health, education and tsteigerwaldt(at) 1095 6th Avenue • 319-377-3412
health, quality of life and safety.

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